After entering beta last month, the stable version of Gboard 6.8 is now rolling out. Notable functionality includes the addition of a built-in handwriting support without the need to download a separate app, as well as suggestions in URL fields, like Chrome’s Omnibar.
Before version 6.8, Google maintained a separate Handwriting Input app in the Play Store. Fortunately, handwriting support is now integrated into Gboard, with users able to quickly switch by tapping the “Change keyboard” key to the left of the space bar.
To add a handwriting keyboard, first head to Languages in settings and find yours. Once selected, the carousel of different keyboard types now includes a “Handwriting” varriant. Launching the keyboard for the first time will involve a download of the necessary resources.
Functionality does not seem all too different from the existing dedicated app. At the bottom, users have quick access to numbers, symbols, emoji, and other keys.
Meanwhile, URL fields — like in Chrome — now display suggestions. It’s more geared towards searching, as there are no link-optimized recommendations. However, the presence of this row means that users now have access to Gboard’s Google Translate feature and other appropriate tools like the Text Editing keyboard, One-handed mode, and settings.
The release notes on the Play Store also mention a “Fast delete” feature, though it’s not clear how it differentiates from the existing swiping on the backspace key to delete text.
Lastly, version 6.8 adds Hinglish-style support for 19 more Indian languages and 20 new languages:
Awadhi, Bambara, Bundeli, Emilian-Romagnol, Fulani, Gilaki, Hiligaynon, Jamaican Patois, Kumaoni, Lambadi, Lombard, Madurese, Minangkabau, Mazanderani, Nahuatl, Neapolitan, Norwegian (Nynorsk), Piedmontese, Sadri, Santali (Devanagari and Bengali), Sicilian, Sylheti, Venetian, and Zazaki